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Boulder Detective Linda Arndt to sue Chief Tom Koby and city

by Pam Regensberg
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- Boulder Detective Linda Arndt -- the first investigator to arrive at the Ramsey home on Dec. 26, 1996 -- is suing police Chief Tom Koby and the city, claiming she has been labeled a ``scapegoat'' for the still unsolved 17-month-old JonBenet Ramsey murder .

Arndt claims Koby knew that public comments about her ``bungling'' the Ramsey case were false and did nothing to stop them, despite her continual requests for him to do so.

According to a lawsuit filed Tuesday afternoon, Arndt said media coverage of her involvement in the Ramsey case has defamed her and sullied her reputation.

She is demanding $150,000 and her free speech right to go public to correct those statements.

``The portrait of Linda as having blown the investigation in its early stages, as being an incompetent or careless investigator, and as being less than a very able professional, is wrong,'' Arndt's attorney, Brooke Jackson stated in an October letter to Koby.

The letter went on to ask that Koby issue a statement to the media ``clearly and unmistakenly correcting these egregious misstatements of facts.''

Neither Arndt nor Koby could be reached this morning for comment.

Jackson said Koby and other department officials have had opportunities to address the media, but have refused, saying it is against strict orders to not speak about the case .

``Chief Koby has not only refused to come to Ms. Arndt's defense but has refused to permit her to speak up on her own behalf,'' Jackson noted.

Additionally, Arndt said she went to Cmdr. Jon Eller in June 1997, who oversaw the case at that time, and asked him to correct the statements and then stand behind her. He did nothing, she claimed. In October 1997, Arndt again went to her superiors in an attempt to repair her reputation. That time, she claimed, Koby said any effort to correct the record ``would backfire and would just be `spun' by the media and make matters worse.''

During the past 17 months, Arndt has been forced to sit back and listen to the erroneous comments being perpetuated in the media, causing her emotional distress, the documents claim.

``It was made abundantly clear that if Detective Arndt spoke to the media in her own defense, she would be subject to discipline, if not termination of her employment,'' Jackson stated.

Arndt has been employed at the Boulder Police Department since March 1988.

According to the lawsuit, misstatements about Arndt include:

* Arndt covered JonBenet's body with a sheet, contaminating the physical evidence.

* Arndt noticed a flashlight and a hammer but did not collect them as evidence, thus permitting them to be lost.

* Arndt gave the Ramseys a photocopy of the ransom note.

* Arndt ``hacked'' into the Boulder police computer files.

* Arndt refused FBI agents access to the 15-room Tudor home.

* Arndt allowed John Ramsey to leave the house for an extended period of time.

* Arndt took medical leave because of guilt over her handling of the investigation.

Also, Arndt's removal from the investigative team has caused other officers to be suspicious of her, she said.